Karl Robinson pointed to a lack of composure in front of goal as the reason why his side exited the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Northampton Town on Tuesday night.
The Dons, who were beaten at the same stage of the competition last season, bowed out to their local rivals as they were unable to cancel out Jake Robinson’s sensation first-half wonder goal.
It was not through a lack of effort though as Daniel Powell, Charlie MacDonald, Stephen Gleeson and Jabo Ibehre all saw opportunities wasted in the game.
Dons boss Robinson won’t be hitting the panic button just yet as he knows his team will come good in front of goal, instead the side were just left to lament their lack of luck in the final third on the night.
Speaking after the game Robinson said: “There was no lack of effort from the players or lack of commitment, I feel we got things right but in the final third we just didn’t take our chances when they came along.
“I could easily work out about 10 gilt-edged chances that on any other day we would have taken but we never took them here today. A wonder strike for them settled the tie, that is as easy as it is to explain the game. We have to show Northampton tremendous credit, they stuck to their job and were very resolute but we felt we should have done a lot more than we did today and we’re very disappointed with ourselves.
“We are disappointed we haven’t won, I hate losing anything. I don’t accept it, I have said one or two things in there (the dressing room) and if anyone has a problem they can come and see me on Thursday morning because I have the stats to back up the facts. Some of that wasn’t acceptable tonight but we know that, the good thing about this group is they are strong characters.”
The Dons manager will have drawn positives from the performance though as new boy Jimmy Bullard made it through 55 minutes while Alan Smith and Antony Kay both returned to the starting line up on completion of their respective bans.
There was also Under-18s captain Mason Spence’s impressive debut to take away from Sixfields. The 17-year-old defender stepped in at right-back, as the Dons made five changes, and the youngster looked more than comfortable along the first team.
Robinson added: “I thought Mason was excellent, he really did put in an accomplished performance. He has trained really well every time we have worked with him and we thought he deserved a chance to play.”
The Gaffer also had a special word for the 1,200-plus Dons supporters who made the short journey to Northampton to watch the side.
“I thought the fans were brilliant, I would like to thank them. They deserved more than they got, we know it’s not acceptable and that we weren’t acceptable in certain areas but overall we weren’t outplayed here tonight.
“It was just a case of us not being good enough in the final third and we know that. I’m not pointing the blame at the strikers, we defend as a team and we score as a team. We work on it every day and we will concentrate on Walsall now.”